Arrested Adulthood: The Changing Nature of Maturity and Identity

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NYU Press, Jun 1, 2000 - Social Science - 245 pages
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Why are today's adults more like adolescents, in their dress and personal tastes, than ever before? Why do so many adults seem to drift and avoid responsibilities such as work and family? As the traditional family breaks down and marriage and child rearing are delayed, what makes a person an adult?

Many people in the industrial West are simply not "growing up" in the traditional sense. Instead, they pursue personal, individual fulfillment and emerge from a vague and prolonged youth into a vague and insecure adulthood. The transition to adulthood is becoming more hazardous, and the destination is becoming more difficult to reach, if it is reached at all.

Arrested Adulthood examines the variety of young people's responses to this new situation. James E. Côté shows us adults who allow the profit-driven industries of mass culture to provide the structure that is missing, as their lives become more individualistic and atomized. He also shows adults who resist anomie and build their world around their sense of personal connectedness to others. Finally, Côté provides a vision of a truly progressive society in which all members can develop their potentials apart from the influence of the market. In so doing, he gives us a clearer vision of what it means to be an adult and makes sense of the longest, but least understood period of the life course.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Rise
11
How Do I Know When
45
Models of Maturity
79
The Decline of Authority
119
Forever Young in
155
New Forms
187
Notes
223
References
229
Index
241
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About the author (2000)

JAMES E. CÔTÉ is Professor of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario and is the author of Generation on Hold: Coming of Age in the Late Twentieth Century (also available from NYU Press).

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